The Thing Is, I’m Undocumented

This is Oumou Troure. She’s an all-American girl who grew up in Boston and loves the Celtics, playing the saxophone, and window-shopping on Newbury Street. She’s also one of the 65,000 kids in the U.S. who graduate high school each year but aren’t legal residents. So even though she’s been accepted to college, she can’t get a loan to pay for it. She can’t get a job to support herself, either. When she tells me this, I step closer, ignoring my parents’ constant warnings to never talk about what I’m about to say — you can never tell who’s listening. “I know what you’re going through,” I whisper.

grace talusan collage

The author at age three with her sister at McDonald’s (left); and the family’s first Christmas in Boston. (Photos courtesy of Grace Talusan)

It’s springtime, just a few months from Oumou’s graduation, when she and I meet at a café near her home. She tells me that her mother knows an Angolan man with U.S. citizenship who, for a fee, will marry her. Her mother can raise some of the money, but Oumou would need to come up with the rest.

“Don’t,” I immediately blurt out, before Oumou can tell me that she’s already refused this option. She doesn’t want to commit fraud, and besides, she hasn’t even started dating. She leans back in her chair and stares at the table. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do when school ends — babysit, clean homes, whatever. She looks depressed. She’s sitting right next to me as we sip smoothies, but she seems far away. “Sometimes,” she says, “I just don’t want to be here anymore.”

“You’ll go back to Cape Verde?” I ask, recalling that awkward moment from a recent GOP debate when Mitt Romney advocated “self-deportation.” I worry about what will happen to Oumou if she takes a one-way flight back to Cape Verde. She doesn’t have anyone there except for her father, whom she speaks to by phone every few years.

Oumou shakes her head. That’s not what she meant. “Sometimes I feel like it’s not worth living,” she says. “I regret that I was even born. I’m not going to be born into a world where I’m not even going to have rights to anything. I don’t have the right to work, to go to school, to get a license.”

A few days later, she calls me. She’s been crying all day at school. Graduation is so close. I feel helpless, but also conflicted. In writing about her experience, I’m supposed to be disinterested and detached, but I can’t turn her away. Perhaps like no one else, I understand what she’s feeling.

I was fortunate enough to have been born to parents who could pay my college tuition out of pocket, and I was lucky to have had Reagan give me a pathway to citizenship. If not for that, I would have been like Oumou, unable to have the full adult life I’d earned, living in constant fear of deportation. I can feel myself crossing a line, but I make appointments anyway with people who might have answers, and I invite Oumou to come along. I think I’m helping.

 

It’s 8 a.m., and Oumou is texting me. Only yesterday she got the money to turn her phone back on. I haven’t heard from her in a while, even by e-mail, because the neighbors with WiFi within range of her bedroom were late paying their bill this month. Now she’s texting me to make sure I’m still meeting her at UMass Boston later that afternoon. The last time we spoke, Oumou told me she was going to give up pursuing funding for college, even though she’d been accepted to several schools. A year’s tuition might as well have been a billion dollars. I was surprised by how that affected me. She couldn’t just give up on herself like that, I told her. I encouraged her to head out to the UMass campus and ask if they could help. So today we’re going to ask an admissions counselor if there’s any way Oumou can attend the school even if she has no way of paying.

Oumou’s anxious texts start again an hour and a half ?before the meeting. School’s just let out; she’s waiting for the T; she’s at the JFK stop now; she’s stepping onto the campus shuttle; she’s too cold outside the campus center because she left her jacket at a party over the weekend, so where should she wait? When we finally meet up, Oumou’s wearing a thin pink cardigan and her hair is slicked into a bun. She appears years older and, but for her “I Heart Boobies!” bracelet, part of a breast cancer campaign aimed at teenagers, could be mistaken for someone who works on the campus.

“Where do we go?” she asks.

I point to the sign in silver letters — Admissions — right in front of us and try to hide my impatience. I’ve never seen her this riled up before. The admissions counselor tells us that Oumou’s SATs are slightly low, but her grades are strong, so if she successfully completes a special summer program she’ll be guaranteed a spot in the fall class. She tells him she wants to attend, but that she has to pay out-of-state tuition, even though she’s lived in the neighborhood most of her life. Finally getting that she’s undocumented without her ever actually saying so, he suggests we visit “The One Stop,” a centralized office for students to take care of their accounts and registration. There’s hope: Someone in the next office will show her how to pay for college. Oumou’s relieved as we walk to the One Stop, but her smile fades as soon as she hits the desk. The woman working doesn’t even want to hear Oumou’s question until she hands over identification. Oumou fumbles for her high school ID and the woman hands it back. “I need government-issued ID,” she says.

“I don’t have one,” Oumou says.

“Then let me type in your Social,” the woman says.

“I don’t have one,” Oumou says. She’s squeezing her forehead and covering her eyes with her hand.

“How can you not have a Social Security number?” the woman asks. Oumou backs away from the desk, teary. The woman doesn’t see a foreigner, but a young black woman much like herself. She sees an American. As I spend more time with Oumou, I’m growing increasingly confused about my role. Am I a journalist or an advocate? But Oumou is crying right now, so I speak up.

“She’s a newly accepted student, but she won’t matriculate until the fall semester,” I say. “She wants to find out how to pay for college.”

“Just fill out a FAFSA,” the woman says. Actually, Oumou has tried to fill out that financial aid form online, but the program never allows her beyond the field where she’s supposed to enter her Social Security number. We’re sent upstairs to the scholarships office, but we don’t get past the reception desk, where the woman tells Oumou that she needs to figure out her immigration status first.

Worn out and discouraged, we sit in silence for 10 minutes on a bench near the elevator. All my help has resulted in a futile scavenger hunt through the campus center. I’m realizing that this might not end well for Oumou, and I’m feeling guilty that I ever got her involved.

 

In March, I set up a meeting with someone I knew in high school, Jeff Rubin, who these days is an attorney with an immigration practice in Government Center. His desk is covered with stacks of file folders, and he has 55 people to call back before the end of the day. It’s already after 4 on a Friday afternoon.

He picks up a sheet of paper from his desk and dials the phone number for ICE, keying in information to check on a court date for a client. He explains to me that this same service allows you to find out if you have a deportation order, even if it’s 20 years old. Immediately, I flush red. “I could have old deportation orders?” I ask. What would that mean?

Rubin offers to run my alien number, and all the fear and anxiety come right back. I’m here to ask advice about Oumou, but I’m distracted by what might be out there concerning me. Rubin leans back in his chair and laces his fingers behind his head. “You’re being paranoid,” he says. “If you’re a citizen already, they can’t take it away from you.”

His next client comes in, 17-year-old Nelson Perez from East Boston. He would also be eligible for the DREAM Act if it passed. Perez sits across from Rubin’s desk and says, “Every time I come here, I feel nervous that something bad will happen.”

Rubin assures Perez that everything will work out. Later, I ask Rubin how he can be so confident. He says that he has memorandums from ICE stating that DREAM Act–eligible youth are not priorities.

Any advice for Oumou? “Hire an immigration lawyer,” he says. Not a bad idea, actually, for people who can afford one.

 

A few weeks later my reporting leads me to a free legal clinic that’s put on by the Irish International Immigrant Center. I’ve really started to wonder by now whether I’m actually making things worse for Oumou, unfairly raising her expectations. But I realize that she’s never spoken to a lawyer about her case before. So I ask whether she wants to come along with me.

We enter the Green Briar pub in Brighton, where the clinic is being held. We’re an hour early and it’s empty. The waitress, who seems to know why we’re here, nods toward a set of wooden doors. We walk through and find about 20 people already in the room. When a young man storms out in a huff, swinging the doors hard behind him, we look at each other and laugh nervously. We wait two hours for Oumou’s turn.

Hanging in the air is Oumou’s awareness that there may be a kind of awful finality to what she learns today. The volunteer lawyers we’ll be meeting with know immigration law. Bad news from them might spell the end of hope. I suddenly find myself revealing something very personal. After finding out that I carried the genetic mutation for breast cancer, I tell Oumou, I had a preventive mastectomy several years ago. “Some of my cousins won’t test,” I tell her. “They’d rather not know. But I think it’s better to know, even if it’s bad news. That way you can prepare.”

At last we’re called in. We sit down with the two volunteer lawyers and they read Oumou’s paperwork. Oumou asks ­whether her aunt could adopt her, but it turns out that option expired when she turned 15. Sure, her sisters could petition for her, but given the way the system works, that could take years, even decades. One of the lawyers looks up from Oumou’s paperwork. “Why doesn’t your mother petition you?” he asks. “She’s a permanent resident and once she ­becomes a citizen, she can.”

“I just turned 18,” Oumou responds, “so I’m not a minor anymore.”

The lawyers explain that as long as Oumou is younger than 21 and unmarried, her mother can petition for her once she becomes a citizen. I’m stunned by the news. I ask the lawyers to check with the other attorneys in the pub, just to be certain. One of them returns. “Yes,” he says. “Twenty-one.”

I grab Oumou’s arm. “Did you hear that?” I say.

 

I’m amazed how simple the solution for Oumou turns out to be. I’m able to find a government website that confirms the information in seconds. And yet, for years, Oumou believed she had no solution. She disclosed her problem to very few people because she worried that someone would betray her and she would be arrested. When she did ask advice from people she trusted, she was told to self-deport or to marry a citizen. She didn’t know that organizations like the Irish International ­Immigrant Center existed, or that all across the city free legal clinics and citizenship classes have helped people navigate the country’s complex immigration system and learn their rights. As an unauthorized immigrant, she assumed she had no rights. And when someone doesn’t believe she has rights, she doesn’t ask for help even when she’s in danger. She sits alone in her room, listening to music. She considers her options, none of them good, and contemplates suicide. She doesn’t ask the right person the right question at the right time, and her window of opportunity closes.

A few weeks later, Oumou hears more good news. In July, she will begin Northeastern University’s Foundation Year, a first-year college program for high school graduates from Boston. She’ll get the support she needs to succeed in higher education. She is the first in her family to finish high school, let alone attend college. Until now, she has never dared to dream, but today she aspires to become a clinical psychologist. She wants to help others who feel trapped by things they can’t control.

  • telma

    I’m so happy and proud of my little sister oumou, for being strong and remaining patient, there was times when she would call me crying hopelessly cause she’s undocumented. And now it feels like she’ll be unstoppable accomplishing everything she want to do..I love you lil sis and I’m so proud and happy for you

  • Nellie

    I am tired of people trying to make me feel sorry for illegal aliens. This is a problem of their parents making. Stop trying to make us (American citizens) feel sorry or guilty – it is not of our making. Ask your parents what their plan was for you when you got older?

    • Ashleigh

      First I have to say That I am supper proud of My Girl Oumou! She is too much of a wonderful person to recieve anything negative. Documented or not I love and respect Oumou as a Friend and as Far as people being Tired of hearing about Illegal Aliens, it Won’t EVER stop. This country is made up of Human Beings who all have the direct right to live where they would like to. If having “papers” is what changes a persons perception of another human then they need to open up their eyes and take a better look at the country we live in. Great Loving People Like Oumou are everywhere! And I am accepting to that. LOVE You OUMOU! A&F

    • Julie Goncalves

      I’m going to jump in and say that no one is making you feel bad for illegal aliens they Re people just like us … This is a country of freedom

    • kara

      We human beings do not choose the country we are born in nor the parents or economical status. US is a country that proclaims freedom in which by the way we are all immigrant first, second or third…this act is only helping the kids to have the same rights that others do…and why wouldn’t you if they work hard, study and can be the future bright minds of the country….

    • Anna

      Nellie, I see how you view yourself: an “American citizen” and one of the superior chosen ones who deserves it all. The U.S. is made of Immigrants and many of the American citizen’s ancestors came here illegally as well. The difference was the immigration laws in the past wasn’t as strict and they were more forgiving so your ancestors got legal documents.

      Don’t tell me you think all immigrants (your ancestors) in 1800′s or early 1900′s applied for Visa, stood in line, and got here happy train.

      No child should pay for the mistakes of their parents. You are a God and family hating person with selfish heart and soul. You were lucky enough to be born under a favorable sky and there is still plenty of space here for some more people to get a second chance in happiness.

  • Kellt Jane

    I disagree with Nellie, if this was you, I’m pretty sure you would want people to sympathize for you and for the record Oumou never trired to gain attein and try to make people feel sorry fo her.I’ve known her for 4 years and this is how I found out. So keep you not so “thoughtful” comment to yourself

  • Jan D

    My nephew just graduated high school, he is also hoping to go to college, but even in-state tuition is to expensive. He like other members of my family, my self included will work full time and take single classes at community colleges.

    I don’t feel at all sorry for this girl or her family. Lots of people are looking for work and trying to get into college. She does not get to jump the line and get extra benefits because she over stayed her visa.

    • http://Bostonmagazine.com Julie

      You’re straight up ignorant…

      • Anna

        I agree with you Julie. She is!!!

    • candy

      This comment has been removed for violating the comments policy.

    • laura

      I understand where you are coming from.. there are many American’s whom cant afford to further their education. But the focus of this is not that some undocumented young lady is trying to drain from the financial system. The point is, she cant get anywhere… last time I checked as a manager for a business, its required to have a valid social to work, and ID. If these young students canT seek work… how will they be able to pay there way through school. It is not about them taking from our financial system… is about helping them become stable and making their own. You need to remember that we all our immigrants.. whether its is first, second, or fifth generation. We all are.. and its time to make a difference.

    • Linda D

      I have to agree with Jan D and others on this. I’m confused… you want me to feel sorry for a girl who is here ILLEGALLY, is that right? You want me to feel sorry for her and the rest of the 800,000 that Obama is letting in this country for free while millions have stood in line, paid THOUSANDS of dollars to come to this country legally and have the same dreams as this young woman, correct? Obama says that “this is the right thing to do for America”… I’m confused on this as well.. how do we pay for all of these people when we’re already broke? How do these people find jobs when there is already so many American’s already looking for work, how is this the “right thing to do for America”? I myself am not working right now, when I look for a job in the classifieds it’s for “Bi-lingual only”… how is that NOT discrimination to me? I’m the one who was born in this country of parents of parents that were born and raised in this country and yet I have to be forced to speak Spanish in order to get a job? If the roles were reversed, and the ad said “English only” I’m sure there would be some lawsuit somewhere filing for discrimination. It just doesn’t seem right that I have to feel sorry for someone who is here illegally and because he/she speaks Spanish she will be getting that job over me. For the people who say that this is what America is all about, that we’re a nation of immigrants.. I’m pretty sure the immigrants that came over here went through it the legal way.. ever been to or heard of Ellis Island? Not to mention, this isn’t the right time to do this.. I know it’s for Latino votes and if he felt so strongly for this, why didn’t he do this in his first year of the presidency? It’s because the election is coming up and he’s panicking! I mean, it was done as an Executive Order, not through congress… it just doesn’t seem fair to many AMERICAN people that are suffering everyday, people that have no work, people that are standing out on the corner hoping that someone will give them a few dollars to get through the day, American’s that have lost their homes and are living in their cars, shelters or streets. I’m sorry, I can’t feel sorry for someone who is here illegally because of ignorant parents who “jumped the line” while there are SO many legal American’s hurting… is anyone helping THEM?

      • Jaquie S.

        Yes, this is a heated debate. Whenever people of small minds and impoverished hearts hear of others struggles, it does make them squire and lash out. We are all people. some people live on this side of a humanly defined line, others live on that side. There is no difference. Nothing is being taken from you, except by Facebook (“free” you know) and other huge corps. So, we are a country of immigrants who killed off most of the indigenous peoples who lived here prior to the take-over and now we want what we’ve taken and not share our good fortune (read: spoils).

        Lets all grow up and try to care for the one (person) next to us who has less, who is being mistreated, malnourished, who is having their rights (as a human being) impinged upon. Get off the iPhone (we should all be so lucky) and help. I’m proud to live in a country that recognizes that if we help educate people–I’ll pay 100% tax for that!–we will all be free someday.

        Best of luck Oumou. I don’t konw you, but you deserve it all!!!
        JS

        • Anna

          I completely agree with you Jaquie. You are a person with heart and soul. Most people here insist on being Christians or God loving people but most of all they hate helping another in need. They are selfish and uncharitable creatures.

      • Anna

        Than learn a language. Knowing a language is an asset so if you do attempt to learn a language it wouldn’t hurt you. Education shouldn’t be a temporary occurrence; It should a continuos event.

        I already know three languages and I am also learning Spanish now. In Europe it is mandatory for students to learn two to three languages. English is a must know language in many foreign countries and no one complains. They are also advanced in match and science.

    • Jaquie S.

      Plenty of work out here…are you willing to do it? I took two jobs: McDonalds and cleaning peoples houses. Don’t complain if you aren’t willing to bear the pain! Born and bred in the US, willing to work to pay the bills. Plenty of work, go get it, don’t blame others for your unwillingness to do what is necessary to eat.

      • OneTime_comment

        Finally, the first rational and honest comment. I wish more people in this country felt that way and actually kept working hard, instead of complaining for the mistakes they have made. Some of this kids have the same problems, except that they were never given the option or legal path to fail at it. Let them get those chances, just like your ancestors did to get educated and better their lives and their family’s lives.

      • Anna

        Jaquie you are awesome!! I always come across people who complain there are no job. There ARE jobs!!! Look harder and be willing to work a bit harder.

    • Anna

      I think you failed to read the article. It says, unlike your nephew, she can’t even get a job to pay for her education. Your nephew, if he really wants, can go to college and get a government loan. If he was a good student, with good grades, he should also be able to get scholarship.
      Don’t compare your nephew to her. Every documents U.S. kids have everything they need to make their dreams come true. They are living in the country of opportunity. They just need to work hard and not play video games, or party, or smoke, or just waste their time.
      Your comment is just excuses, excuses, excuses…..

  • http://Bostonmagazine.com Jen

    For those that where ignorant !!! there are a lot of gov.websites that offer financial aid if you gualify..but in oumou’s case she can’t , America is where she grew up n where she knows best, n for her to lie in a country where she has been all her life and not beig treated as equal ,really sadness me ..she’s a good student n he deserves the opportunity to get rights n go to college n make something of herself , thats all shes asking for ..is to live the American dream like everyone else in this country…

  • lucie

    This comment has been removed for violating the comments policy.

  • Wildishka

    I am saddened by those who are making such heartless comments here. As an adult whose life was seriously screwed up by parental actions and inactions, I think holding a child responsible for a choice his or her parents made on his behalf is terribly heartless. I can’t even imagine being a teenager and finding out that I might have to go live in a country that I may as well have never been to and don’t know anybody, because of something that I had no say in. I hope none of you “I don’t feel sorry for her” types never have to rely on the empathy and kindness of others because it sure seems to me like you know nothing about how to give those things to others.

    • Cristy

      Ditto this. I really don’t understand people who can’t find it in themselves to have compassion for those less privileged than them.

  • David

    Im so proud of you!!!! To all those who are judging her negatively why don’t you take note. Obviously her story describes her taking chances an living her life to the fullest maybe we as “Americans” need to step the hell up and stop knocking down the people who are actually trying to make their lives better along side fighting ignorant people about their citizenship. All im saying is that im proud of Oumou i know she is determined to get what she needs done and i can speak from experience because i have seen her go for the gold. Keep it up Oumou!! <3

  • J Bravo

    I’ll first start of by saying that I understand both sides of the issue here. On the one hand, there are illegal aliens in the country. Maybe they are taking jobs.Maybe they are taking resources. That’s something we, as the country that symbolizes hope and hard work for the entire world, have to live by. Sure it’s a negative consequence – but these people are here for the same reason all of our ancestors
    came here – so that the next generation of their family could have what America stands for. Now, is it fair for us being that next generation to say to others trying to start their own journey – “Sorry, you and your family cant begin the process.” that doesnt seem right. That’s like going back in time and telling your ancestors, upon their arrival to this great country, Sorry – we’re full and you’re going to take our jobs. Obviously that’d be terrible because then we wouldn’t be here.
    If I can just give one more example – we’ve all had undocumented citizens in our lives…it could have been the EMT who saved your relative; the doctor who treated your disease when no one else could figure it out; the nurse who held your parent’s hand when you couldn’t get away from work. These people are sewn into the fabric of our lives and our country and they deserve every right to fulfill the dream that our ancestors worked so hard to give us. As Americans, let’s embrace these people, because they love this country as much as we do, and if they came here to escape an inferior country, they may appreciate the USA just a little more at times. When i think of American values, I think of courage, of hope and strength and helping others. I do not think of pushing people off the side of our boat as they try to climb out of the water – I think as Americans we would grasp their hand – no matter what papers are in their pocket – and hoist them into the safety of our great shining ship.

    • lucie

      I agreed wit j bravo well said …this country was made by immagrants…n the ones that said negative comments please look at your family background n I bet someone in your family or your ancestors came from another country n simply just to make a living n have a better life’s to support their family n holding their kids n their kids kids have a good future …n oumou is from a very poor country that’s struggling like other countries in the world n she didn’t ask to be here …all she knows is here n almost half her family are here n for her to be deported to her country where. She might not have any family n probably has forgotten her language n culture n for her to go bak their n start fresh will be horrible ..she grew up here ……let oumou get wat she deserves …she has never gotten in trouble n gets good grades n shes a great friend to all n has a good heart

  • stacy

    This comment has been removed for violating the comments policy.

  • Julie Goncalves

    I love you oumou and you know that. I’m so proud of you, knowing you been through a Lot of obstacles in your life you seem to overcome each and every one hof them. You are a very successful and independent woman who strives to do her best in each and every way. You know I’m here for you when ever you need me, we knew each other for years and that’s not going to stop.

  • Brittney

    linda D your a bum …can’t you read …it clearly states that she came to the country illegally you bum. why should illegal Americans have the right to travel and live in other please but people cant come and live in America.. that BS and you freaking know it. your just ignorant. It people like you who makes this world so chaotic. your a sinful human being and hope god doesn’t forgive for the words that you have written.

  • Brittney

    linda D your a bum …can’t you read …it clearly states that she came to the country legally you bum. why should legal Americans have the right to travel and live in other please but people cant come and live in America.. that BS and you freaking know it. your just ignorant. It people like you who makes this world so chaotic. your a sinful human being and hope god doesn’t forgive for the words that you have written.

  • Cristy

    That is so amazing! I wish you all the best in your pursuits, Oumou.

  • chaska

    I am hoping the dream act gets finally approved! It is been more than ten years that they are trying to pass the law….and it pains me to see how these youth cannot become part of the society when they have lived most of their lives here.

  • Carolyn

    Bravo to both Oumou and Grace for your honesty and tenacity. Why some believe that keeping people down is good for the country is mind boggling. This country is its greatest when we embrace everyone and encourage people to improve their lives, not to kick them into the closet and slam the door on them. It is only by chance that any of us were born in this country as we do not pick our parents or their place of residence. Most of these parents are only looking for a better life for their families and come here illegally out of desperation and survival…doesn’t that make them good parents and who wouldn’t do this for their own family if facing danger, poverty, and worse?

  • EAS

    She has my sympathy. She really does. She’s clearly a brave, bright, and capable girl. She isn’t responsible for her parents’ choices. That said…

    I’ve lived as an expat in the third world and have friends overseas to this day. Many of them — from privileged upbringings and well-off countries or not; Turkish, German, Indonesian, Singapuran, New Zealander, Tibetan; the whole spectrum — would LOVE to have the chance to live and work in the US. Because they respect immigration laws, however, they either face a long byzantine tunnel of paperwork and red tape, or are shut out entirely. Why are they less deserving than those who break the law?

    Your parents can screw up your life in lots of ways. Bringing you into a country illegally, knowing you will have no documentation and no way of accessing safety nets like subsidized tuition, is just one of them. It’s sad. Life is sad.

    Of course, if we as a country really wanted to end illegal immigration, we wouldn’t be harassing the immigrants; we’d be busting employers. If we wanted to end prostitution we’d stop tormenting prostitutes and arrest the johns. For both moral and practical reasons, our efforts should focus on restricting demand, not supply. Instead we get this dog and pony show that allows some of our most vulnerable fellow humans to be continually preyed upon.

    I don’t agree with repeated sweeping amnesty and am decidedly ambivalent about the DREAM act. It isn’t the child’s fault, and yet, I would rather increase the number of LEGAL slots for LAW-ABIDING would-be immigrants. Rewarding people for breaking the law is a terrible idea, start to finish. However, I also strongly disagree with the way our immigration policies are selectively, abusively enforced, at the expense of vulnerable and desperate people.

    Enough name-calling. This is a nuanced and difficult issue. There are legitimate reasons, beyond abject cruelty, to object to amnesty programs. I’m inclined to support those that focus on people who, as children, had no say in the decisions that ultimately destroyed their futures — but every article that completely ignores the concept of LEGAL immigration, as if illegal immigration is a natural occurrence that simply happens like tornadoes or wildfires, pushes me further and further away from amnesty programs in general.

    Let people in legally. There are plenty who would love to come. Stop rewarding lawbreakers at the expense of honest and conscientious people.

  • CollegeStudent

    I am very proud of Oumou for having the courage to step out and share her story. I am also undocumented and sometimes feel afraid to share my story to people. Currently I am attending a prestigious university and conduct clinical research to treat breast/ovarian cancer in the U.S. The fact is, I consider myself an American like Oumou and plan to use my skills and abilities to benefit this wonderful country. The U.S. has invested in our high school education, so to push me and Oumou away would be a waste of talent.

  • Jane

    Grace, thank you for this thoughtful and personal account of your experience and Oumou’s. I didn’t know this piece of your story. Your hard work, ambition and talents make you a tribute to this country. I hope Oumou, like you did, moves beyond this difficult period and makes herself a future here. Regardless of one’s politics, we can all show empathy for young people like Oumou who are just trying to find their place in society. It is wonderful to live in a society that embraces people from around the world and I hope the US never loses that unique part of our culture.

  • http://Yahoo Kaylee

    Oumou’s story is one of the multiple ones we see in this case. As children, they are brought across American borders and make a home here. Is this really their fault? America is, after all, the land of the free. Do we really have the right to turn someone down who is helping our country? The Dream Act is raising new predicament, but we should be thankful for it.

    Also, the Dream Act is for those immigrants going to college. Since so many people in this country are for portraying a better image, shouldn’t we be welcoming these students? They are raising our literacy rates. Most of them work harder than the average American for half the pay. We should look at the positive effects of this new act, instead of just the negatives. My personal opinion, is that it would be a great new thing for out country.

  • Brenda

    Apply for the dream act! i already got my response back and i got accepted into it ! theres no doubt you wont get denied! trust me its worth it!

  • http://twitter.com/bhriguaneja Bhrigu Aneja

    I lived and studied at a US High School on an F1 Visa, I paid $8000 in fees every year I did. Following this, I went to a community college in California, also on F1 and rightfully paying international fees. Now, I do not come from a rich family in India and I was not allowed to work in the US. So eventually when my parents money ran out and I couldn’t sustain any longer I moved back to New Delhi, India. I did not finish my BS in CS and had to leave, after I had had my parents squeeze, and provide for me every last dime left in their pockets for me. For someone like me it seems stupid now that I played by the rules. I should have stayed over and maybe gotten a citizenship through this shortcut, while all the other more qualified engineers and doctors from numerous countries waited in lines in anticipation for a green card. The DREAM ACTS sends a very poor message. It tells the people to not respect the rules that were laid down. It is just not fair to the people who do it “right”